Fatty acid supplements have no effect on the heart health of people with diabetes, new research suggests. In a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers find that omega 3 fatty acid supplements don't lower cardiovascular disease risk for people suffering from hyperglycemia.
An international team of researchers arrived at this conclusion after conducting an experiment designed to test whether n-3 fatty acid supplements would lower the cardiovascular disease risk among people with diabetes or other high blood sugar ailments.
In order to test their hypothesis, scientific investigators selected 12,500 people (age 50 years and over) whom were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes for participation in the 6 year long Outcome Reduction with Initial Glargine Intervention (ORIGIN) trial. Upon acceptance into the trial, participants were randomly assigned a daily capsule containing 1-gram omega fatty acid or a placebo.
From there, the researchers followed the participants for an average of 6 years during which time they learned some interesting facts about omega-3 fatty acid and its effect on cardiovascular health.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Won't Protect Your Heart
According to results of the trial, fatty acid supplements seemed to provide very little protection at all. In fact the outcomes for the fatty acid and placebo groups were very similar. For example:
- Fatty acid supplements had little effect on the rate of major cardiovascular events (1034 patients in omega-3 group vs. 1017 in the placebo group).
- Similarity in outcome due to deaths from any cause (951 among the omega-3 group vs. 964 for the placebo group).
- Similar number of deaths due to heart arrythmia (288 vs. 259).
- No significant difference in reduction of
About the only thing omega-3 supplements did have positive effect on were patients' triglyceride levels.
Scientists determined that by the end of the ORIGIN trial, patients who took the daily n-3 fatty acid supplements had lower the triglyceride levels compared to the placebo group. But omega-3 had no significant impact on other lipids, plasma glucose, high blood pressure, etc.
Based on the results, the scientific team concluded:"[T]he administration of 1 g of n–3 fatty acids did not reduce the rate of death from cardiovascular causes or other outcomes during a period of 6 years in patients with dysglycemia and additional cardiovascular risk factors."
Diabetes is a disorder characterized by high blood sugar and is associated with obesity which in turn is linked to cardiovascular disease. Many people, including those with type 2 diabetes take omega-3 supplements because of its purported cardiovascular health benefits which is what makes the conclusion reached by the ORIGIN trial so surprising.
While the ORIGIN trial found that n-3 fatty acids provide no benefit, other research concludes that fatty acid supplementation does improve cardiovascular health.
For example, Kris-Etherton and colleagues published a review in Circulation, citing a number of studies showing that omega-3 fish oil reduces arrhythmias, deaths, nonfatal heart attacks and strokes, though they cautioned the need for further trials to ascertain the benefit and safety of dietary omega-3 fatty acids.
The research team involved in the ORIGIN trial also said:"Whether similar results would have been observed at higher doses is unknown. Furthermore, these findings may not be relevant to dietary recommendations to consume more fish, because dietary change not only increases the intake of foods containing n–3 fatty acids but is also associated with a reduction in the consumption of foods such as red meats, which may be harmful."
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Kris-Etherton, P. (2002). Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease Circulation, 106 (21), 2747-2757 DOI: 10.1161/01.CIR.0000038493.65177.94
n–3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Outcomes in Patients with Dysglycemia New England Journal of Medicine, June 11, 2012 http://bit.ly/OtBosI
"Fatty Acid Supplements Don't Benefit Type 2 Diabetics with Heart Disease" copyright 2012 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.